The Festival Finale

7.3.11 - Watkins Glen Dave Lavery)

After all the tremendous music at Super Ball over the first two days, Phish saved their best (conventional) performance for last, closing the festival with their most impressive two sets of the weekend. With spectacular song selection, improvisation galore, and a sharp, four-minded communication, the band tore apart each of Sunday’s sets. Today, let’s discuss set two.

7.3.11 (G.Lucas)

The defining quality of the festival’s finale was the musical connection between the band members throughout. Despite what song or style they played, they were tapped in to each other’s ideas and created innovative music from each and every piece. The setlist may have looked a bit strange on paper, but Phish executed nailed their final frame of Super Ball superbly, and with a hearty dosage of risk-taking jamming.

With their communication skills shining after a creative opening leg and over ten hours of playing at the festival, Phish combined several launch pads into a set that never relented. The result was some of the most cohesive jamming of the weekend and a twisting musical adventure that ended with a fireworks display to match the musical theatrics. Some of the band’s most exploratory jaunts of the festival came in “Disease,” “Light,” and “Waves,” while the set was not short on grooves, featuring an explosive “Party Time” and the slick combination of “Ghost” and “Jibboo.” Within this stanza, Phish showcased their revitalized jamming for their audience with every piece they touched.

“Disease,” “Light” and “Waves” all explored variant styles of music while providing the central jams of the set. Breaking down the high-speed rock of “Disease” with groovier textures, Trey began chopping rhythm licks and the band responded with short offerings that created a percussive whole. Mike—much like the dynamic in “Golden Age”—began to throw down bass lines underneath the music that strongly influenced the direction of the jam as Trey, Page and Fish interacted up top. Then, slowing into a murky texture with Mike still at the helm, the band patiently—and seamlessly—bled into “No Quarter.” The set’s opening excursion had found gold.

7.3.11 D.Lavery)

The contour of Super Ball’s “Light” more closely resembled the multi-tiered versions of 2010 than the shortened outings we’ve seen this summer. Settling out of Trey’s guitar solo, the whole band band opened up the song’s jam for the first time, in earnest, since last fall and came up with an instant classic. Page initiated a melody that Trey latched onto immediately and sculpted into a delicate picking pattern that set the tone for the intricate experiment. All band members locked together in a forward-looking groove which, before too long, moved into calmer waters. Mike and Trey stepped forth to lead the band in through a totally original jam that moved—naturally—through a dreamy psychedelia and into a final section of new-age funk.

Pausing to exhale as they concluded “Light,” the band stepped right into “Waves.” A cathartic, festival-sized guitar solo graced the first half of the jam, while after the lyrical reprise, Phish dropped into the void. In a jam that featured soul-touching soundscapes, and harmonies you could feel as well as you could hear, the band showcased yet another brilliant improvisational style. At times evoking sounds of the Storage Jam from the previous night, Phish had the audience floating amidst a blissful, cosmic space, gradually increasing the intensity of the music and moving towards a perfectly-placed version of “What’s the Use?.”

7.3.11 (Dave Lavery)

In between these early and late set combos, the band dropped a blistering “Party Time” and combined unique renditions of both “Ghost” and “Jibboo.” As the guys reached a smooth yet driving canvas in “Ghost,” Trey and Mike’s interplay stood out again as each tore off infectious licks. Bringing the music into the uplifting realm, the band got into intricate interplay that didn’t focus on massive bass lines, but moved outwards quickly into abstract territory. And once the band reached an ambient plane, Trey came in with “Jibboo.” After using “Ghost” more unconventionally, in “Jibboo” the band came together in a monstrous, whole-band groove session that served as a mid-set peak.

Closing the frame with an anti-climactic choice of “Stealing Time” (“YEM” would have sealed the deal), the band had thrown down plenty of musical meat to satiate even the most jaded fan. And as the fireworks display started amidst the “First Tube” encore, continued through the post-show selection of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” and into the post-show silence, we watched colors explode in mid-air —a physical manifestation of the musical pyrotechnics we had witnessed all weekend long. And with amidst this poignant silence, we had the chance to reflect on all that Super Ball was and forever will be—a historical weekend in Phish history.


Jam of the Day:

Light” 7.3.11 II

A top-notch rendition featuring a wide-open jam.



BOOK CONTEST #3: Don’t forget to get your second leg picks in to win a signed copy of “Mr.Miner’s Phish Thoughts: An Anthology By a Fan for the Fans.” Enter by clicking here! In book news, we are in the final layout and proofreading process and things look to be on schedule for a holiday season release! If you haven’t checked out the book site recently, you can now read about the anthology’s unique system of navigation through which you can read the book based on your own interests. (Think of the old-school “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we all read as kids.) Click over and check it out and reserve your copy today!

Tags: , ,

563 Responses to “The Festival Finale”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    cleveland is also one of the best china > rider transition jams you’ll ever hear

    (fun fact: the jazzy, melodic “bonus jam” in 73-74 china – riders was born in an open jam segment of a fall ’72 dark star. which one? you’ll just have to listen to a few)

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    yeah, in a big crowd like, it’s to be expected you could be assaulted as well.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    Mr. C

    on it..

    grabbing those 73 picks.

    I guess I have been working my way backwards with the Dead from 77.

    77, 74, now 73

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    t-shirt idea:


  5. MrCompletely Says:

    ah you’re getting to the core now Lycan

    fall 73, spring 73, fall 72 – jam-field gold

    for some reason summer 73 not nearly as strong overall. and september horn tour…meh.

    I’m stoked for ya. this shit will be right up your alley, no question.

    you already listen to 2-24-74? don’t skip that one. That and 12-6-73 are the twin giants at the core of Dark Star history

    so many huge darkstars

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    ill make sure to listen Mr. C


    really love the jazzy in the pocket drumming of 74… its really the thing that stands out to me most in that time actually.

  7. Guyute711 Says:

    Can’t remember where I read it but I like the don’t throw glowsticks sign idea

  8. yematt Says:

    I charge $$ for phish dance moves lessons. don’t film me, bro.

    haven’t posted in a long while, but just wanna chime in to say what an incredible peak my life has reached since SBIX. just doesn’t get better than a phish festival – absolutely glowing.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    thats phenomenal @yematt

    great to hear the vibe echoes

  10. Lycanthropist Says:


    season 2 starts filming next week

    13 emmy nominations

  11. sumodie Says:

    wow, bombino puts on a smokin show that exceeded my expectations

    great stage presence

    hypnotic, vibrant guitar tone

    great rec, bbers -thanks

  12. chefbradford Says:

    Lycan I’m waiting to hear from turntable via e-mail as well. “Invite List” or whatever. I assume that’s what you’re talking about.

    General question for everybody: what’s the best app and/or apps for Android OS for listening to files? I’ve tried a couple that haven’t been cooperative, and user feedback on the same apps has indicated that I’m not the only one having problems

    And along the same lines, are there any recommended must-have Android apps? I’ve got some, but I’m always open to suggestion

    thanks in advance

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    lycan, before you get into that, even

    check out this Playin’ if you haven’t heard it: 11-15-72 Houston

    one of a few big ones like that from the tour

  14. tela'smuff Says:

    can’t wait lycan. i’m a geek for that show!

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    ^^^ no donna howl on the reprise even. a gem

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    hey Sumo that’s great man. Really jealous, I’d love to see him. At this point I guess that album counts as my favorite of the year so far based on # of spins.

  17. plord Says:

    Bombino at Higher Ground next Friday. jtran, alex, and me all going. Psyched.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    he has great quiet charisma in the vids, bombino does

    did a drummer play a calabash drum in a tub of water? they had a sweet super deep sounding hemispherical clay drum at tinariwen but not the floating calabash thing

  19. jdub Says:

    That’s awesome Sumo, another great rec from the BB!

  20. yematt Says:

    also want to share my storage jam experience, which was incredibly blissful, as i’m sure it was for many. my crew left after the 3rd set to go back to our site, having no knowledge that there would be secret set (other than one of the guys working one of the storage unit spaces telling us earlier that day that we had to come back tonight to see what it was all about, very vague). so we get back to our site, and my friend and are a little too excited, for lack of a better word, to sit still so we decide to go walk around, eventually deciding why not go back to the concert grounds since it had soo much eye candy/things to do. as we enter i’m thinking, what the fuck? why are there still so many people here? i know there’s stuff going on but damn. walk around a bit more and people are posted up, sitting down – clearly waiting for something. so ask someone what’s the deal here? why is everyone here? fills me in there is suppose to be a secret set at the disco ball. this was about an hour before it started so I wasn’t really sure if it was gonna happen or not and didn’t have the patience to sit still for an hour and wait. so we head to the pinball lounge, I had NO IDEA this place turned into a disco tent at night! it was so awesome! just got the fuck down for about 30 mins and then went to back to ball square to find a spot. things start to get weird and it’s getting more clear that phish has taken the reigns. after giving up after a few minutes of trying to figure where this was coming from, we moved and found a patch of grass to be lay down and just be horizontal for this incredible, unknown experience. indescribable at the moment other than the surround sound, but damn that was cool. still couldn’t believe that we just happened to go back to the concert grounds having no idea of a secret set. awesome.

    sorry for the long post, but there’s no where else to talk about this!

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    dear sweet holy chalice-puffin knock-kneed Jeebus that is a great story

    sounds like good karma, well spent.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    I just got all grinned out reading that

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    That other one I posted yesterday from the europe 72 had a feelin groovy jam in it, sickness

  24. yematt Says:

    i was with a crew of 7, only 2 of us went back*


  25. yematt Says:

    thanks Mr.C! i still grin-out pretty hard when i listen back to that set. which i’ve found to translate better though an AUD. nothing will capture it 100%, but that’s the beauty of being there.

Leave a Reply